So I’ve been utilizing my latest tip for about a year now and I feel like a brat for keeping it all to myself and not sharing it with my awesome readers.
It’s pretty simple actually and it’s really not anything mind blowing. But the few people I mentioned it to responded with, “Wow, that’s a REALLY good tip!”
Color me surprised, I finally thought of something worthwhile to share! So here it is:
I set several alarms on my phone via an app called “Alarmed.” It’s free to download and it works pretty easily. You just set an alarm to go off either daily, weekly, monthly or even yearly. You could use it for Birthdays, Anniversaries, Pay your Bills, Write for the blog, Make that doctor appointment, etc.
I used to use it for these things until one day I decided to start setting reminders about my diet. This was at a point when I felt like I had lost control over my cravings and had to take steps to at least TRY to combat them.
So I set this app to alarm me at several times throughout the day when I would be most likely to binge or cheat with phrases like:
“Don’t cheat on your diet tonight.” – Reminded me that my cravings could be controlled.
“You’re making great progress, keep going.” – Reminded me that I wanted to be consistent in order to see results.
“Remember how fortunate you are that have food to eat…” – Reminded me how blessed I am and how plenty of people don’t have enough to eat.
“Be an example to your clients and your fitness family.” – Reminded me that my fitness family includes my readers, my blog readers, my social media followers, etc not JUST my clients.
Some are faith based and could be my own personal mantra/prayer or sometimes it’s a scripture passage but regardless of anyone’s beliefs, I think we can all agree that we only get ONE body in this life right? 🙂 So, with that being stated, I have used some of these “alarms” as well:
“Your body is a temple, don’t destroy it with junk.” – And not just junk food but junk tv shows, junk music, junk movies, junk social media, etc.
“God, not food, is who is in control of me.” – For my non-believer readers, you can adjust this to say something like “Food does not control me, I am in control.”
“Pursue holiness in all you do.” – Self explanatory but could also be interpreted as “Pursue good and avoid evil.”
“Untwist in me what is twisted.” – I stole this from author Christopher West. Technically you could call it a prayer but when used with a diet mindset, you’re asking that all those negative thoughts that are twisted up inside your mind telling you how you’re going to fail, that this is too hard, that you’ll never lose this weight, you’ll never achieve success and untwists those to reveal the truth. Don’t believe the lies of the scale, don’t believe the lies that the media portrays about beauty and fitness, untwist what is twisted and get yourself set up to succeed.
I hope this little tip was helpful. I use it everyday and most days, it works for me. Some days I admit, I ignore the alarm and I “snooze” through it. But that’s okay! I just move on and start fresh before that next alarm goes off.
So it’s 13 weeks until my next figure competition and I am completely unmotivated to do anything about it.
Workout-wise, I’m doing well. No big problems there.
Diet-wise? That’s another story.
I’m not quite sure where the motivation and energy and fire went, but it is long gone and I can’t seem to get it back. I tried logging my food, thinking the accountability of my clients and random friends on My Fitness Pal checking in might help. It has helped a bit, but I’m still not all in.
I’ve tried going to my favorite fitness competitor’s websites and checking out their progress pics. That sorta worked but it didn’t seem to illicit any feelings of “YEAH!!! LET’S DO THIS!”
I’ve tried reading my old blog posts from when I first trained two years ago. Nostalgia, right? Eh…I just ended up critiquing my writing style in some of them. 😉
I’ve tried to pinpoint exactly why I cannot seem to take this goal seriously like I did the first time. I came to a few conclusions as to why this time around I am not as enthused about it:
This isn’t the first time. Now that I know what to expect, I’m not EXCITED as much as I’m DREADING it because I’m thinking of all the negative aspects of competing instead of the positive ones.
I’m.busier than before. I have several social events coming up in the next two months including a wedding across the country, a week long retreat in Pennsylvania, and a class reunion in less than a month. I want to look forward to attending and instead I’m sitting here thinking “How can I fit a cooler on to a plane?” and “I wonder if I can fit in a workout before the rehearsal dinner?”
I’m distracted. I’ve been reading a lot of books on religion and Catholic doctrine and Christianity and although I’ve ALWAYS known that there is more to life than 6pack abs, I can’t seem to find a balance between living the “fit life” and exercising my mind as well. Granted I’m reading other books too but I also want to travel and hang out with my family and friends and sometimes I think training prevents me from doing this.
My family won’t be able to attend the show. I will have a large audience of friends in support of me there at the show but as soon as I found out the majority of my immediate family couldn’t make it, I felt like maybe this wasn’t meant to be. It’s super important to me that they be there and if they aren’t, I won’t take it as seriously as I should.
I’ve talked to my trainer/friend/co-worker Chris about this the other day and we agreed that if I am not into this, let’s not push it. BUT, this doesn’t get me off the hook. He suggested I find something that DOES spark that fire in me that I could shoot for. In other words, as the title of this post suggests, FIND a NEW goal because this competition just ain’t cutting it.
So, with that said, I discussed the possibility of sticking to the plan of training and attempting to diet and just training to look great for summer! The wedding that I’m in takes place in mid-July. I went to try on the dress and order it today. I tried on a size 6 and although it fit, it was a tad snug. So, there’s my motivation!
I’m not about to SQUEEZE into a dress in the sweltering July heat for my friends wedding and look like I barely fit into this dress. Granted, no one looks at the bridesmaids at weddings, all eyes will be on her. 🙂 But, it’s motivating me to take things more seriously.
And, the best part is, if by some chance I happen to look pretty good and feel pretty good at the wedding, there will still be a month left to prep for the competition, if I choose to do it.
If not, I will take my own advice and book a photo shoot, the one that I wanted to do LAST summer but didn’t because I got lazy and didn’t want to diet. Hmm….I’m sensing a pattern with myself.
Either way, I have found new motivation: July 18th is the wedding for my friend. Progress pics will be taken next week.
Back when I started studying to become certified as a Personal Trainer, I came across an article that sparked something in me.
Ever have that feeling? Have you ever read something or saw something or heard something that struck a chord in you or resonated with you in such a way that you never looked at anything the same way again?
Yeah, for me, with regards to junk food, it was this article.
Now, I’ll be the first to tell you I hate science. I’ve never had a knack for understanding science, math, chemistry, pretty much anything with numbers and letters. 😉 But food? I understand food.
So when I read this article, I remember thinking it was a tad too “science-y” and so I had to read it about 3 or 4 times to truly get it. For those of you who aren’t into this whole biology thing, I have summarized the main takeaways. My point with today’s post is that perhaps those of you who are addicted to things like donuts and all around crappy foods and can’t seem to stop, maybe if you READ or UNDERSTAND how these foods differ, you’ll be more likely to make the healthier choice.
An apple contains good nutrients like Vitamin C but also has calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A and a healthy dose of potassium. An apple skin contains a compound called quercetin, a powerful antioxidant that reduces cardiovascular risk. The flavonoids and phytochemicals that it contains seem to help fight against cancer. AND the skin contains lots of fiber, which helps to improve bowel function and reduced cholesterol absorption. Woohoo! Lots of good stuff right??
A doughnut contains none of these nutrients.
The doughnut is loaded with saturated fats, trans fats and refined sugar and is largely devoid of any nutritional value, other than energy, which it has in abundance.
The digestion process of the doughnut is quite lengthier than the apple. Healthier fats generally are absorbed via the liver, whereas saturated and trans fats pass through the villi and are converted into triglycerides, the main form of fatstorage in the body. They are also coated in cholesterol (from the liver) and hence the fats in a doughnut will raise the bad (LDL) cholesterol and reduce the good (HDL) component.
Trans fats do even more damage. They have been shown to wreak havoc with the body’s ability to regulate cholesterol and massively increase your risk of heart disease. They also get into the outer lining of our cells, causing them to harden.
We shouldn’t be too harsh on the doughnut, some of their trans-fat containing friends are deep fried foods, such as French fries, cakes, cookies, biscuits, some breads (especially croissants and pastries), processed foods (especially pies, sausage rolls etc), snack foods (potato chips, some muesli bars) and margarine.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t had a doughnut since reading this post back in 2008. But I can honestly say I know I have had 3 in the past 7 years. Why? When I was presented with the option of having one, I ALWAYS remember this article. Like I said in the beginning, it was one that resonated with me. Maybe it will make an impact with you or someone you know that you think MIGHT take Doughnut Sunday at church just a little too far. 😉
As for the progress that’s been made since this article came out, the USA has taken steps to ban trans fats in most foods so it’s not as popular as before. But you can bet not ALL those popular doughnut chains are trans-fat free. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration allows companies to round down to 0 g in its nutrition facts label even if the food contains as much as 0.5 of a gram per serving. Some popular donut companies use the words “Trans Fat Free!” in their advertising legally even though they DO in fact, contain trans fats.
That’s just an FYI for you. I’m not the food police but trans fats are not something anyone should be eating on the regular. If you care about your body and your health, take the time to research what you’re eating.
In good health,
P.S. I recently did a consult with a woman who found me through my other blog that has little to do with fitness. In case you wanted to read what truly matters to me, you can read my ramblings there too.
Okay yeah I can’t fake it. I’m not a big fan of bread. And this is coming from someone who grew up eating Peanut Butter and Jelly on white bread for like, 15 years.
I used to eat a ton of it when I trained for my half marathons and races years ago. But then I slowly just got sick of it. Pasta too. I know, I know, I’m Italian, I should LOVE pasta right? Maybe I just got sick and tired of all the carbs. Most of my carb sources these days are in the form of oats, rice cakes and low carb wraps.
So I got to wondering, “Are there others like me? Are there other non-bread lovers out there?” So I asked all my clients as well as anyone else who has kids (thinking maybe they eat bread because their kids probably do for sandwiches) if they eat bread. I also asked if they wanted to mention anything else about carbs and cutting back on the bread when dieting.
Here are the results of my informal survey:
Currently I buy Schwebel’s Sweet Harvest Wheat. It’s probably not any better than white, but I love soft wheat bread when I have my PB&J so that’s what I get. My daughters don’t care that it’s brown (like I did growing up).
I buy it b/c it’s reasonably priced for how much bread we do eat.
I have 5 kinds of Ezekial Bread in the house, my kids love them!
My kids have sandwiches everyday and they eat regular white bread. I think people have to be smart when dieting. Most don’t know where to start or whatever. Oh…. I like bread too much. I like wine too much. I like food too much. Yeah, we know that, that’s why this country is obese. Nobody knows how much to eat. Once they learn the amount, then I would assume you start talkin about quality. Over time, I’ve learned to make different choices. Some do, some don’t.
My kids grew up eating Ezekiel bread or a similar style homemade bread their grandmother made. They thought regular grocery store bread was “weird” when they had it at their friends houses. I’m sure their friends thought our bread was weird. LOL I eat an Ezekiel English muffin almost every day.
I am a mom and I do eat breads, all kinds. When I first started eating better I kept my good “aka expensive foods” limited to just me. Then I realized why am I denying my son the right to have the good foods too. He eats pretty much whatever he’s told, however he would choose the good choices first in most cases anyhow.
I limit bread because it can be a trigger for me. For planned meals I’ll sub 2 corn tortillas on occasion to make tacos. I’ll sometimes have a toasted English Muffin for a Post Workout meal or when having a craving as I love the crunch/texture. My family eats wheat/sourdough bread on occasion but basic flour or whole wheat tortillas are the norm for making wraps.
I only buy Ezekiel bread. I myself rarely eat it but my daughter and husband eat it 5 out of 7 days/week.
I eat sunflower seed bread because I have worked it into my plan. I also have butter on it as one of my fats – again worked into my plan.
I buy Potato bread or a loaf of sourdough because they like it. I eat it too. Not everyday, but if I want a sandwich sure I’ll grab their bread. My kids wouldn’t go for wraps (especially lettuce wraps) unless they were at PF Changs, LOL!
I have three kids and we do have breads in moderation. Organic and whole grain usually. I eat Ezekiel muffins, they do not like them much. I really try to have them make good choices… ex: a bagel is fine, but not a whole one…instead have a half with eggs and cheese … and fruit. For sandwiches at lunch I do lower carb whole grain for kiddos, or omit bread all together and do cut up cheese, fruit, veggies and meat… (and then maybe whole grains, like crackers…)
There are plenty of things I choose not to eat that my kids eat. Halloween candy for example. Obviously 80/20 on that.
Bread is such a tricky one though. When you make healthier choices you look for volume- especially when dieting. Heck, even non-dieting I don’t really choose bread as a go to simply because there’s not much to it. I think the thought of no bread for newbies would sound restrictive and maybe even daunting. But I know plenty of folks who do cut things out especially when they are just starting.
I try not have anything that’s really off limits b/c I have so many food issues. I offer a large variety and they eat what they eat. I think because of that my girls love everything from Fruit Loops to broccoli. I will serve something over and over b/c they will eat something one time and then turn their nose up again at it 5 times before they scarf it down again. I also don’t short order cook. I serve dinner and they can choose to eat it or not, but I don’t make anything else, they don’t get dessert or snack after that.
I think people also don’t realize how much “bread” they do eat and that is when it gets dangerous. It’s not just sandwich bread, it’s bagels, pizza dough, cookies, cake, brownies. That’s ALL bread. Just b/c it doesn’t come in a loaf doesn’t mean it’s not bread and too much of it is not good.
I think the lesson here is if you haven’t tried Ezekial bread, give it a shot. 🙂 I myself have had the cinnamon raisin Ezekial bread and it tastes so good, and remember, I’m a very picky eater to this day. The last woman I surveyed I think had one of the best points: People don’t realize how carb-y foods can be and if you’re trying to at least “watch” what you’re eating, take note of all those doughs and cookies and cakes and bagels – Those carbs add up!
A separate blog post about what kinds of meals you can make for your kids is coming up later on this week too. 🙂
Is it possible to eat whole natural foods while stuck at an airport or in a hotel? It might not be convenient, but it’s possible. Here’s some examples of each meal and what would be considered a good, better, and best substitutions when you’re stuck without an oven or a fridge. These are just some examples, I’m sure many of you have your own go-to snacks/meals that you eat when traveling. Speak up in the comment section or let me know on Facebook or Twitter.
Of course, it’s always best to be prepared so we’re assuming in these examples that the traveler had some notice prior to heading out, hence the BEST examples will be ones that could be packed on planes or in a vehicle.
Good: Protein bar with low amount of fat, 20grams of protein and will most likely have 25g of carbs. Don’t bother with the small snack size bars (ahem, ones that say SKINNY on them); save those for actual snacks. If this is your only meal for breakfast, then this is better than nothing but it can’t be so small that you’re hungry again in an hour.
Better: Hard-boiled Eggs (yes they have these at most airports after you pass thru security) with crackers and a piece of fruit. Another better option would be an egg white wrap from the airport/fast food places with some feta cheese and spinach. Again, looking for a protein with fat and a carb. But make sure it fills you up!
Best: Eat before you head out to the airport or start traveling with a homemade breakfast. If it HAS to be quick, I would recommend a smoothie that you make at home with either protein powder or greek yogurt as the protein source, and then add in a ton of greens and veggies like carrots and cucumbers, add some fruit for a little sweetness and some nut butter for a fat and you’re good to go. If you are able, you can pack up your protein powder, buy some low fat milk at the airport or gas station and use your shaker bottle to have a decent breakfast with a piece of fruit and some crackers. Sometimes the store-bought smoothies are loaded with so much sugar that it’s best you just make your own.
Good: Salad or wrap from a fast food joint. Don’t add a ton of extras like mayo or oils to it. The protein should be grilled, not fried. Opt out of the dessert or sweet treat that usually sit at the cash register tempting you to BUY ME! It’ll just cause you to crash later from all those ridiculous amounts of sugar. Beverage is going to be as close to non-caloric as you can get. Don’t be tempted to get an energy drink, especially when you’re going to be SITTING in a car, or on a plane, or in a cab…etc.
Better: Greek yogurt cup or beef jerky (desperate times call for desperate measures!), string cheese, a snack bar or mini protein shake that has 10-15g of protein and a piece of fruit or dried fruit like raisins or craisins. You will notice that all of these are snacks just put together to make one big meal. The point here is that you won’t be full from just ONE of these snacks so if it’s going to be 4-5 hours before your next meal, you can fill up on these. Or mix and match if you only desire or have access to a few.
Best: Salad or wrap from an actual restaurant is best here if you have no way of bringing your own. Same rules apply from the Good example. If you have access to a grocery store (I know, I know) you could go to their salad bar which has the freshest options, usually. As a snack you can have some trail mix. If it’s store bought, make sure it contains no chocolate covered anything, it has a little bit of dried fruit and a decent amount of unsalted nuts. The portions that are sold at convenience stores and rest stops are usually way too big for just one person. It’s best (and cheaper!) to make your own with small baggies that you can portion out yourself. And oh look, they travel easily too!
This is usually where I hear clients struggle the most. They say their boss or their co-workers/clients take them out for a “working dinner” and since they aren’t the ones paying, all bets are off on what they will eat. And maybe it’s been one long day at the office and you’re starving because you didn’t even have a chance to eat good meals for breakfast and lunch. This is when you have to really be careful if you want to stick with a plan. You HAVE to look for balance.
Good: One or two servings of the table appetizer which is usually garlic bread or chips/salsa, or some other option. Split appetizer between yourself and at least one other person, entree of your choice with veggies, and one alcoholic beverage. Dessert.
Better: Grilled appetizer prepared for one person, entree with double veggies and no bread or pasta, and one alcoholic beverage. Fruit based dessert or chocolate/sugar dessert split with one other person.
Best: No appetizer, grilled/poached/baked entree with double veggies, no alcoholic beverage and a dessert of your choice split between 2 other people. Plenty of water or maybe a diet pop/soda.
Now, this is assuming this dinner is at an actual restaurant where the portions are typically Americanized and doubled, especially when it comes to dessert. As for the beverages, depending on the occasion, what your job is, what kind of person you are, I’m sure the alcoholic beverage option will be different for everyone. But I know how hard it is to get looks or questions from people such as “Why are you ordering that?” or “Why aren’t you drinking with us?” or “You should splurge just this once!”
Give those people a polite, but firm “Mind your own damn business” “Thanks but no thanks” and forget it. I will never ever understand why eating “kinda healthy” is STILL a stigma in this country…but that’s another blog post for another day.
I hope some of these options give you at least a few ideas of what you could eat when you travel. Circumstances won’t always allow the freedom to eat the healthiest options but aim for the GOOD, attempt to get BETTER but try for your BEST!
I see the internet is abuzz once again with the latest “No Excuses” photo making the rounds on Instagram.
Rewind: Fitness enthusiast Maria Kang posted this picture of herself on Facebook way back in the fall of 2013.
The internet exploded with half praise for Kang for being “fitsporational” but many others accused her of bullying and “fit-shaming,” making people (specifically women) who have had kids thinking they are just sitting at home on the couch eating chips and bon bons when they have plenty of time to exercise and eat healthy.
So was she bragging or motivating? Kang said on her own website “I felt that if others can overcome incredible challenges to be in shape, why would my story be any different?”
So we’ve had a break with the fit-shaming since then…right? I guess the internet was overdue for another one.
Enter Abby Pell. Pell frequently posts pictures of herself on her Instagram page with motivational sayings, apparently. She posted this picture almost a year ago but it’s making headlines now because she recently won a fitness/bodybuilding competition.
Her intent seems to be the same as Kang.
“The message I want to portray is for all the women/mums/girl who aren’t happy or confident with themselves and the reason they don’t try to do anything about it is because they think it’ll be too hard or even impossible to get results.
Everyone could make excuses, too many people think it’s easier not to try than to risk failure. It’s not the case. I don’t want to make other women feel bad about themselves, I want them to look at me and think, if she can do it so can I. Because you can!”
Is this message being portrayed in the best way?
If we are trying to tell Mommies everywhere that having kids is no excuse for getting in shape, does baring your six pack stomach really inspire anyone? Or is it just making people angry enough to comment and post about how much they hate these women?
I definitely don’t have an answer. But I think the REACTION is interesting. Perhaps the picture brought out some…Jealousy? Envy? Sensitivity?
I honestly felt none of these. I immediately thought, “Good for them! Okay…so what else is going on in the news?” I didn’t give it more than a second or two of attention. It wasn’t until almost every fitness person I follow started Retweeting and sharing it that I noticed the “outrage.”
What’s Your Excuse Reason for Getting in Shape?
As for me, several things inspired me to get in shape for the competition.
I don’t have kids and I’ve mentioned on here in the past, I had been a personal trainer but just hadn’t pushed myself as much at the time. I had felt soft and lazy. I didn’t like the way I felt but had become so complacent that I kinda didn’t care all that much. I could have stayed soft, lazy, and kinda average looking but I KNEW I had it in me to look and feel better.
Taking a look around me, I was surrounded by fit people at the gym I worked at. I saw how hard they worked and wondered, “Why don’t my workouts look like that? How come my muscles don’t look like hers?” Well, the answer was easy: I wasn’t pushing myself. At all. I was just coasting.
I had looked at pictures of some of my former co-workers from back in Chicago, one in particular was incredibly inspirational for me. She pushed and trained and dieted for a competition as well and I thought, WOW. I want to look like that! I want my workouts to kick ass and I want to look like these people when I’m done!
I don’t have kids so maybe training and dieting for the competition would have been challenging for me if I did. But there are plenty of mommies who compete. Maybe they aren’t all pros but they are out there.
So it wasn’t one picture or one person in particular who lit the fire in me to get off my butt and start taking fitness more seriously. It was several people and my current lazy flat butt* that got me going.
*It’s not flat anymore. Thank you deadlifts and split squats and lunges and more squats!
15 Minutes of Fame
Did these women just want to be in the spotlight for a period of time? Maybe. Attention seeking? Perhaps.
But I think what is interesting is these women are real people (i.e. not celebrities). Can you imagine the audacity if Madonna or Britney or Heidi Klum posted a photo with the same caption??? Can you imagine the outrage and the comments???
“Easy for you to say, you’re a millionaire!!!”
“You have 3 nannies and probably a personal chef and a personal trainer!!”
“You get paid $ to look that way!!!”
“You’ve probably had liposuction!!! All your photos are photoshopped anyways!”
But the minute a real woman posts it, all of a sudden the reaction is “Fit shaming! Shame on you!! Who are you to tell me what I should be doing?!”
Newsflash: These women never ordered or commanded any of us to listen to them. They are merely trying to help. And quite frankly, you don’t need to listen or click or comment if you don’t like the message.
Think of social media as a hobby, not your job.
Some of us respond well to yelling and barking in your face type of personal trainers, some respond well to calm and collected and others listen to no-nonsense types (I put myself in this category). I think the same is said for the type of people you follow on social media, real or…ummm not real (famous people).
Maybe you like the hardcore, in-your-face types who might curse once in awhile and post videos of themselves kicking their own butts in the gym. Maybe you like the fitness geeks who show you how to move better or always have a post about how to keep good form while working out. Or maybe you like just regular good old fashioned easy-to-follow instructions and black and white “I tell it like it is” types. As long as they get you off the couch and ignite a little fire in you, keep following them. But be careful, because sometimes the best sources of inspiration, are right under your nose.
I for one, like to follow and look up to REAL people. As I mentioned earlier, my friends, my co-workers who train hard, my clients who follow their plans. Those people are my “fit-sporation.” Sure I follow plenty of fitness people on social media, but I like following my actual friends who I see everyday even more.
So take a look around you. Try actually looking up from the phone and the computer. Who around you has the best healthy habits that you would love to adapt? Who has a workout regiment that you think you’d like to try? Who seems to have their act together?
Talk to them. Ask them how did they get to the point where they are now with their physique and fitness level.
Guaranteed the conversation might go something like this:
“I make it a priority. But I wasn’t always like this! It took me a long time to prepare all my meals and get my workouts in.”
“My gym is right around the corner from my job so I go right after work. Otherwise I don’t think I would ever go.”
“I have the energy to deal with my job and the kids because I don’t eat crap like I used to. I don’t always work out. Sometimes I just can’t get it in, but at least my meals are pretty good 80% of the time. It also helps that I learned how to cook after I got married.”
“Oh it’s takes a lot of work to stay in shape but I’m addicted to it! I signed up for some endurance races to hold me accountable. At first it was hard, but I just made it a point to put it in my schedule. Like an appointment that I can’t miss.”
Do you see what the consistent message is here? “It’s not easy but I made it work for me.” “I’m not always 100% consistent but I try.” “It took me a long time to get this way.”
I promise, this is the only secret that there is.
Some day, everyone will stop with the quick fixes and diet pills and crash diets. People will see the celebrities on magazine covers and condemn the latest Hollywood cleanse. Women won’t tear each other down. We’ll stop trying to one-up our transformation story as being better or “because I’m a Mom I had to work harder than you!”
Some day this will happen. They’ll understand there are no excuses. There’s just hard work and desire to succeed.